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WHO says 'unknown pneumonia' is on their 'radar'

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Born in 1906, Eddie Albert’s encounter with pneumonia in old age is what led the Hollywood legend to take his last breath in his Californian home in 2005.

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is swelling of the tissue in one or both lungs, the NHS stated, that is usually caused by a bacterial infection. The symptoms of pneumonia may develop quickly within a 48-hour period, or the signs of swollen lungs may take a few days to emerge.

Common warning signs of pneumonia include a dry cough, or one that produces thick yellow, green, claritin us brown, or blood-stained mucus.

Breathing could become laboured, sounding rapid and shallow, causing breathlessness, even when resting.

Pneumonia might lead to a rapid heartbeat, high temperature, and generally feeling unwell.

The condition could also lead to sweating and shivering, a loss of appetite, and chest pain that worsens when coughing.

While less common, other possible indications of pneumonia might include:

  • Coughing up blood (haemoptysis)
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling sick or being sick
  • Wheezing
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Feeling confused and disorientated, particularly in elderly people.

Call 999 for an ambulance if you are struggling to breathe, are coughing up blood, have blue lips or a blue face, or you have become very drowsy.

While pneumonia can affect anybody of any age, the condition can be more serious in the very young, or the elderly, like it was for Eddie.

Groups of people at risk of serious complications include those who have underlying health conditions, such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.

Mild pneumonia, on the other hand, can usually be treated at home by getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking antibiotics if it’s caused by a bacterial infection.

“If you do not have any other health problems, you should respond well to treatment and soon recover,” the NHS assured.

However, at-risk groups might require hospitalisation, as pneumonia, sadly, can be fatal depending on a person’s health and age.

Pneumonia in theses cohorts might lead to respiratory failure, a lung abscess, or blood poisoning.

Can pneumonia be prevented?

People at high risk of pneumonia should be offered the pneumococcal vaccine and flu vaccine.

Adults aged 65 and older are recommended to get the pneumococcal vaccine on the NHS.

“People aged 65 and over only need a single pneumococcal vaccination,” the NHS stated. “This vaccine is not given annually like the flu jab.”

The vaccine works by encouraging the body to produce antibodies against pneumococcal bacteria, which can lead to pneumonia.

What are antibodies?

“Antibodies are proteins produced by the body to neutralise or destroy disease-carrying organisms and toxins,” the NHS explained.

“They protect you from becoming ill if you’re infected with the bacteria.”

Older adults given the pneumococcal vaccination are protected against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacterium.

The NHS estimates that the vaccine is between 50 to 70 percent effective against the disease.

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